EPISODE 62 :: Vivian Shao Chen


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In Episode 62 of the Close Knit Podcast, I spoke to Vivian Shao Chen. Vivian is a potter, sewist, and knitter, and architect by profession. The order of that list changes frequently.

She has been pursuing pottery for almost four years. She learned sewing from her parents when she was a child through their clothing manufacturing business. She picked sewing back up as an adult in the last 20 months or so, and now she has transitioned to drafting almost all her own garments. She taught herself to knit about two years ago as a way to keep her hands busy when she’s too tired to be in the studio.

She recounts memories of her childhood in the factory her parents managed in Montreal after immigrating from Taiwan - a unique look at the manufacturing process that gave her an early understanding of garment construction. Vivian only picked garment sewing up more recently as an adult, and we talk about the ways she approaches her garment-making - from a place of form, function, and technical skill. She tells me how all of her many creative pursuits have some mix of this triad of things.

We talk about how she came to knitting as a way to occupy her hands on her commutes from Philadelphia to her job in NYC at the time, and how she came to understand knitted garment-making, and how she made it her own. Vivian is a person who enjoys the technical and problem-solving elements of her creative process, a quality that has lent itself to many pattern alterations, and overall a responsiveness to garment-construction process.

Much like in her pottery practice, Vivian’s aesthetic has come about as a result of making work - her forms organic, her materials natural, a reflection of her interest in light and shadow, and her affection for rustic and complex natural yarn colors.

Vivian is a multi-talented creative person, and it was such a treat to hear her perspective on how all of her experiences across her various practices have come together to influence each other in what you see of her present-day practice.

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